We at University Commons believe Athens, Ohio is a special place to call home, and part of what makes the area so worthwhile is the variety of local businesses who contribute to our unique community.
With that in mind, we reached out to Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery and spoke with employee Allison Weber for a Q&A to discuss the Jackie O’s story.
Q. What is the history of Jackie O’s?
A. O’Hooley’s was already an operating brewpub when Art Oestrike purchased the business in 2005. The brewpub was rechristened Jackie O’s after Art’s mother. Brad Clark quickly came on board as the brewmaster and the first batch of Jackie O’s beer was brewed the summer of 2006.
In 2009, the Public House opened next door to the brewpub and along with it, the ability to run a larger restaurant-style kitchen. Plans for the production facility with a taproom came about in 2012 and the first cans of Mystic Mama were rolling off the line in August of 2013.
Over the years, the staff of five has grown to a staff of over one hundred. Jackie O’s Bakeshop, Barrel Ridge Farm and our in-house woodshop are also now part of the family. You can enjoy Jackie O’s beer at all three locations in Athens with 64 total taps, fresh local food and friendly faces at every location. Distribution of draft, cans and kegs are now available all around Ohio.
Q. What is your most popular beer? What’s your personal favorite?
A. Mystic Mama is leading the pack, followed by Razz Wheat. Personally, I agree and love Mystic. Oro Negro is also great. Lately, I’ve really been enjoying the sours like Cranberry Orange Berliner Weisse or Basement Berries, but I’m also never going to be mad at a Ricky.
Q. Jackie O’s has really upped its distribution game around the state the past few years – what does the future have in store for the brewery and its continued growth?
A. Currently, we are working to dial in our distribution around Ohio. We are always trying to improve and be more efficient while keeping standards high. Keeping up with orders in Ohio is the focus for now, but you never know what the future may hold.
Q. Do you have any new beers in the works?
A. Always. The brewers that I have the honor of working with are incredibly creative and talented. It is really fun to see a spark of an idea turn into a tasty beer. Almost anything can turn into inspiration; an event, the season, or a new ingredient can inspire a new recipe, and of course the taste testing is the best part.
The Brewpub’s smaller batch size is perfect for experimentation. Collaborations with other breweries bring in fresh ideas. With the expansion of the barrel room and the sour line, more and more new beers are making their way to taps. There’s always something new to try!
Q. What is the best thing about doing business in Athens?
A. The people and the commitment to quality are really amazing. We do our best to support local farms and purveyors, and keep everything as local as possible. The Athens community really appreciates this commitment to sustainability and quality. It is very satisfying to create a product that people enjoy, but can also feel great about.
Q. What are some of your own favorite places to eat, shop, etc. in Athens?
A. That’s so hard to choose. We are really lucky to have so many great options. If I’m not at Jackie O’s, then Casa, O’Betty’s, Thai Paradise or Athens Uncorked would probably be next on the list. The Farmers Market shouldn’t be missed. It’s always fun to make a loop on the bike path then swing through town for a drink and snack.
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